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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Epiphyllic communities on leaves at tropical forests: causes and consequences for leaf functioning at different scales

PI:  Bruno Rosado (Centro de Gestão de Pesquisa, Desenvolvimento e Inovação – CGPDI)
U.S. Partner: Scott Saleska (University of Arizona)
Project Dates: August 2013 to August 2015
This project focuses on improving our knowledge of the basic ecology of forests so we can better understand the response of plant species based on their interaction with epiphylls, identify their role in the carbon cycle in different scales, and anticipate the effects of climate change and different forest management practices on forests and their functioning in ecosystems. This study will provide several intellectual gains and broader impacts to scientists, environmental planners, and students. It should also provide a missing link in forest carbon models with the potential for better understanding atmosphere-vegetation relationships by examining the influence of leaf traits on epiphyllous communities and leaf functioning. Defining the spatial patterns of the influence of epiphyllous communities on leaf functioning among species and sites may be important to assess the overall carbon balance at a particular site. With this clearer understanding, more meaningful models of forest carbon processes can be formulated that incorporate leaf surface variables and epiphyllous communities.
Dr. Rosado and his team expect to develop basic science investigations with relevant results for development goals and challenges. This goal will be reached by stimulating and supporting the development and dissemination of next-generation instrumentation and maintaining and modernizing the shared research and education infrastructure, including facilities and science and technology centers. A major and broad impact of this proposed study to the public is that it will provide the basis for new information that will enhance our understanding of carbon fluxes. This is especially important given that Brazil has recently approved a new Forest Code that will result in escalating deforestation, increasing the urgency to demonstrate the value and functioning of species. Considering the new paradigm of the green economy that now surrounds this discussion, these researchers expect to produce results on biodiversity research combining floristic, metagenomic, and functional ecology to screen forest leaves. They anticipate strengthening partnerships with science centers and similar institutions to develop exhibits in science and involve the public in research and education activities. Data will be made available in a timely manner by means of databases and digital libraries, and research and education results will be presented in formats useful to policy-makers and broader audiences.
Summary of Recent Activities
Dr. Bruno Rosado and colleagues on his PEER project met in Manaus March 15-17, 2014, with his U.S. partner Dr. Scott Saleska and other researchers participating in the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Geological Survey project “Understanding the Response of Photosynthetic Metabolism in Tropical Forests to Seasonal Climate Variations.” Since the two projects overlap in terms of field locations and the species therein, the meeting focused on collaborative efforts in personnel, field infrastructure, and instrument acquisition. During the joint meeting, the researchers visited one of the Manaus field sites. They reviewed digital images of leaves from tree species collected in November 2013 by the DOE/USGS team, and, based on these images, they are looking for correlations between leaf traits and epiphyll cover and gas exchanges.

Further fieldwork is scheduled to take place in Manaus for two weeks in May 2014. Two of Dr. Rosado’s undergraduate students from the State University of Rio de Janeiro will be part of the group. The team is looking to do further fieldwork in Santarem in August 2014.

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